HANNIBAL — Gretl Claggett grew up in Hannibal surrounded by the sights, sounds and experiences of the stage and screen, and those experiences have fueled her toward receiving the AMC Networks Award for Best Female Creator at the Stareable Fest for her new short film, “STORMCHASER.’
Claggett recalled how her childhood was filled with acting out Broadway plays and acting in the Icehouse Theater, housed in the now-demolished former icehouse along the banks of the Mississippi River. Her parents, Dorothy and the late Dr. Hugh Claggett, immersed her in acting on the theater stage and enjoying classic films in a screening room her father set up. This foundation and the lifelong ties to her hometown have been constant threads through Claggett’s career. “STORMCHASER” is making its way through film festivals, and it has the potential to become a TV series.
Claggett received MFAs in acting, poetry and nonfiction, and she began acting on- and off-Broadway in New York City. Her love of writing coalesced with her first short film, “HAPPY HOUR,” which was narrated by Julianne Moore. Claggett said it takes a lot of money and hard work in the independent scene, and she kept right on moving past challenges as the writer, director and producer of “STORMCHASER.”
The short film opens with Bonnie Blue and her father as they chase a tornado in their pickup. Claggett said fond memories of growing up in Hannibal with her parents nurturing her passion for film often pop up in her works. She was working on “STORMCHASER” during the time her father passed away.
“The writing was really also a metaphor for the passion that my father and I shared for film and great stories and losing yourself in a film — released into another world, whether you’re laughing or crying — being moved by that,” Claggett said. “In “STORMCHASER,” Bonnie Blue feels very alive chasing a tornado with her father and experiencing a tornado. It makes her feel connected to Mother Nature.”
AMC Networks came on board to sponsor the Stareable Fest and they wanted to establish a new award for female-forward productions like “STORMCHASER.” Claggett has since talked with AMC creative directors, noting there is an “open door” for her goal of producing a TV series in the future.
As “STORMCHASER” continues to be shown at film festivals across the country, Claggett will be busy writing during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday. And the honor from AMC Networks has been a source of inspiration moving forward.
“To have a vote of confidence like this is just incredible, it’s just a guidepost to say ‘keep going, you’re on the right track’ — which we all need from time to time,” Claggett said.